Oceanside set to launch its first Fire Explorer Program

OCEANSIDE — Young adults have an opportunity to learn about a career in firefighting through the Oceanside Fire Explorer Program, which is set to begin this month.

Men and women ages 14 to 20 can apply to be part of the hands-on training program that teaches on the job protocol, use of equipment, basic first aid and physical conditioning.

The Explorer Program also provides guidance on next steps and required college classes to become a firefighter.

“We’re grooming the next generation of firefighters,” Sgt. Rick Robinson said. “They’ll get to know  what it’s like on the job, and what it feels like to wear the gear.”

Class size is limited to 16.

Participants will learn a lot about a career in firefighting, but will not work in place of firefighters to put out active fires.

An information night at the Fire Training Center on Aug. 26 drew positive feedback from young adults and parents who attended.

The evening also shared tips on completing the program application and writing a resume and provided computers to do so on the spot.

The first class of Explorers will begin Sept. 23. Explorers will meet weekly for drills on basic firefighting and life-saving skills. They will also volunteer at Fire Department charity and fundraiser events.

In February participants will take part in the regional Fire Explorer Academy with fellow Explorers from Carlsbad Fire, Escondido Fire and North County Fire Protection District.

After six months in the program Explorers have the opportunity to ride along and observe firefighters in action.

“If they think they want to be a firefighter the Explorer Program is a really good way to decide,”  Robinson said. “We want to create as many opportunities as we can.”

Participation in the program requires commitment, enthusiasm, an annual $25 registration fee and safety boots, which cost about $125. Accommodations can be made for those experiencing financial hardship. Uniforms and firefighting gear will be loaned to Explorers in the program.

“We are looking for highly motivated young men and women with whom to share our passion for public service,” Capt. Blake Dorse, program coordinator, said.

Applicants must complete a written application and oral interview to be accepted into the program. Qualifications include attendance in ninth grade or above, a GPA of 2.5 or higher, Oceanside or Camp Pendleton residence, and the physical ability to run, lift, climb and crawl.

Oceanside has a longstanding Police Explorer Program that shares insight into a career in the police force.

Applications for the Fire Explorer Program are accepted year-round. For additional information, call (760) 435-4100.

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